Another great children's novel...Stargirl also by Jerry Spinelli (like Maniac Magee from my last post) was another hit! I absolutely adored Stargirl as I was reading the novel, and I guarantee you will too! This story is told by a boy named Leo who was never the same after Stargirl came to his school. Her presence changes his life forever, and even years and years later, he can't ever seem to get her out of his head. Stargirl is the most unique girl you will ever meet, and she only cares that other people are happy, and never cares what they will think of her. We all could take a lesson in life from Stargirl.
Teachers: Here are some resources & ideas to help you if you decide to use Stargirl in your classroom:
- Stargirl Extension Activities This scholastic website offers 3 activities for after reading Stargirl. Although the suggested grade level is 7-10, they could easily be modified to work for 4-6th grade. These activities all offer an opportunity to be transformed into a group or individual project.
- Discussion Guide This discussion guide from Scholastic offers 14 pretty solid discussion questions with sample answers that students may give. Keep in mind that these questions are just a guide to help you lead a discussion or for a small group's discussion to move forward. You should allow students to take their discussions wherever it may lead as long as the students stay on task.
Key Vocabulary: Here are some important words I noticed while reading that may need to be pretaught...
ukulele, elated, jury, squabble, electron, transformation, hapless, massacre, ego, convoy, raucous, impish, verdict, gaudy, spiel, impromptu, pantomime, ferocity, treason, primitive, oratorical, smitten, enchantment, cosmos, beacon
Another Vocabulary idea would be to teach the different types of plants mentioned in the desert such as saguaros.
During Reading: Ask students to keep a list of all the nice things Stargirl does for the students at school, people in town, and complete strangers. Ask students to also make note of why many of these actions made those around her uncomfortable, upset, etc. This activity will help the students to better understand why Stargirl and Leo are shunned for a large portion of the novel.
- Have students write a letter to one of the characters in the novel. For example, the students could write to Leo asking him if he ever saw Stargirl again, or if he regrets what he did in the story. Another example would be writing to Stargirl to ask her where she went after leaving school, what she did, etc. Collect the letters and distribute them randomly to the class. Have each student respond to the letter they received answering the questions asked in the letter. This activity will help students to practice letter writing as well as make predictions about what might come next if there was another novel about Leo and Stargirl in the future.
- Ask students to think about the names Stargirl has had in the past, Susan, Pocket Mouse, Mudpie, Hullygully and finally Stargirl. They should then try to develop a name for themselves or create a person with an unusual name. After the students decide on names, they will create a character sketch that will help explain the name they chose for themselves or the character they created.
Spinelli, J. (2000). Star Girl. New York: Scholastic Inc.New York Times Best Seller
Happy Reading (& Running) =)